In WWE, Vince McMahon is the bottom line. He makes the choices, the bold decisions, he directs the creative input and the direction the company makes. True, Triple H is making pushes with NXT but it’s Vince who’s the last word on talent and who gets signed. Over the years, his eye has led to WWE getting hold of guys who other companies would have ignored and pushed them well. But other times, Vince’s instincts have been damn bad and hurt WWE majorly. Vince's instincts can't always be right. For every Steve Austin he signed, there was a signing like Giant Gonzales or The Great Khali.
In some cases, they’re folks that are just bad and obviously not ready but Vince signed them off their looks. Other times, they’re folks who seemed promising but bad luck and circumstances made it bad. And a couple of other times, the choice to sign them led to some truly tragic fates.
Vince McMahon has made a lot of mistakes in signings but a few stand out from the pack for the wrong reasons. Here are 15 signings Vince McMahon should be embarrassed about to this day, as they brought some shame to WWE.
That WWE kept signing him a few times just makes it all the crazier. Sid was certainly imposing with his height, his intensity and the aura of a man ready to crush you. His powerbomb move was impressive too and seemed to have the ingredients but marred by a frankly insane mindset. In WCW, he was known as sloppy, nearly hurting guys for real with his bad ring work yet WWE signed him in 1991, pushed as a face.
They turned him heel against Hulk Hogan but the feud ended with Hogan leaving and Sid himself fired for his antics. Despite his years of crazy antics (like attacking Arn Anderson), WWE signed him again in 1996 and even gave him a run as champion. Again, it ended thanks to his terrible ring work and it's astounding how a guy who was so damn bad on so many levels kept getting chances to embarrass wrestling fans to the point even Vince had to wash his hands of him.
14 Eva Marie
Not every lady from NXT is knocking it out of the park. Oh, why beat around the bush? Eva Marie may very well be the worst women’s worker in the company's history. She is hot to look at, no one can deny that with her lush red hair and great body. But in terms of the ring work…wow. The montages of her non-stop botches and quite obvious calling of moves are a popular viral meme. Her promos are stilted and her “character” is nothing fans can get behind.
She’s just bad on so many levels and yet keeps getting attention, no doubt due to her work on “Total Divas.” Rumors abound that Vince wanted her having a push, even a title run, in NXT and Triple H had to put his foot down against it. Keeping this untalented lady around is just an embarrassment to WWE and should be to Vince himself.
13 Terry Taylor
This was just totally embarrassing on so many levels. Terry Taylor was actually a pretty damn good worker, tops in the Mid-South/UWF area and really over as either a face or a heel. This was a man ready to go an hour against Ric Flair and show off nicely so his signing in 1988 should have been the addition of a fine mid-card worker. Instead, Taylor was given the absolutely idiotic gimmick of The Red Rooster. He had a red streak in his hair, a theme song sounding like “Turkey in the Straw” and promos involving letting out a crowing sound.
It was terrible, turning him into a joke and poor Taylor’s career never really recovered. It was just bad on so many levels, even WWE themselves acknowledge that and why Vince should be embarrassed putting such a fine worker as Taylor through this.
12 Kerry Von Erich
The tale of the Von Erich family has been infamy in wrestling history. Fritz gets a lot of flack for insisting on making his sons stars and covering up their problems, turning far too blind an eye to how desperately they needed help. Kerry was among the worst, truly gifted as a worker but marred by addictions to drugs. He was never quite the same after his 1986 car accident (where he secretly lost a foot but managed to hide it for years) but kept on getting pushed. In 1990, he was signed by WWE who had hopes of giving him a good run as The Texas Tornado. He even won the IC belt off of Mr. Perfect and seemed ready for more.
But taking a man already known for addictions and putting him in WWE’s world was a recipe for disaster. Kerry kept slackening off, getting in trouble and needed a stint in rehab. Without Fritz covering for him, Kerry lost the IC belt and was pushed down the card as his heat faded. He fell to a harsh end and his WWE run might have pushed it on as Vince should regret taking on someone with so much baggage.
At first, this wasn’t too terrible a choice. Yes, Mabel was huge but he and Mo had some potential as rapping tag team Men on a Mission. But Mabel’s massive size was a hindrance as they only won the tag titles by him tripping on a Quebecer for a sudden pin and they dropped the belts fast. The real problem came when Vince decided to turn Mabel into the big heel challenger for Diesel in 1995. The man was a total mess and the feud helped contribute to how terrible business in WWE was that year.
Worse, the man was sloppy as a leg drop on The Undertaker cracked Taker’s face and caused other injuries. Later runs as Viscera and Big Daddy V were just as horrific and did nothing to help the crowds. A signing that actually helped create one of the worst years in WWE’s history has to be one Vince should regret.
10 Great Khali
Vince McMahon loves big guys. That’s obvious. But this was taking it a bit too far. The Great Khali sure looked imposing with his massive seven foot tall frame, beefy build, craggy face and his Indian background pushing him more. When he first showed up, fans were impressed by his look and how he seemed so intimidating. The issue came when he actually hit the ring and it was soon shown he had no skills whatsoever. His bouts were ugly and slow, barely able to sell and it was quite obvious how badly workers had to go out of their way to make him look good.
His run as World Champion was horrible and badly-received and even trying to turn him into more of a comedy guy didn’t work. Not to mention injuries curtailing his drive and wasting more time and money. This was Vince’s big-guy love on display and a reason he should be embarrassed at this signing.
9 Marc Mero
Marc Mero wasn't a bad wrestler and truth be told, he was a solid midcarder for WWE before his knee injury forced him to change his style from a highflyer to a more grounded brawler. Wildman Marc Mero had a decent run, even getting a reign as IC Champion, but following a torn ACL, he came back as Marvellous Marc Mero, adopting a brawling style, meant to be a play on a boxer.
What made the signing so bad, was Mero was given the first contract in WWE history that included guaranteed money. In fact, he was once making 1.5 times the salary of the likes of Steve Austin and Mick Foley. At a time when WWE was losing money and close to going out of business, this signing must have given headaches to WWE bookkeepers.
The only saving grace to come out of signing Mero was Sable, his real-life wife joining him, and we all know how important she was to the rise of the Attitude Era.
8 Chris Harris
Poor, poor Chris Harris. In TNA, he took off as one half of America’s Most Wanted, a great worker winning multiple tag team titles and looked amazing. He was good in singles work too, challenging for the NWA title and seemed ready for a bigger push. Signed by WWE, he was given the name of Braden Walker which wasn’t too bad but some promise. Then came the promo: “I’m Braden Walker and I’m going to knock your brains out!” The guy had absolutely no chance after that, audiences too busy laughing at the stupid promo and nickname than anything he did in the ring. Had NXT been around then, maybe Harris could have done well with more development but in ECW, he was just lost and not given many chances. He left after just a couple of months and showcased one of the biggest wastes of a guy ever by WWE and why some TNA guys are better off there.
7 Barry Windham
Windham had a decent run in WWE back in 1985, teaming with Mike Rotunda for two runs as tag team champion. He was a great guy and seemed to be ready for a push but then bolted for Jim Crockett. There, Windham became a star as a member of the Four Horsemen and so when he was signed to WWE in 1989, he should have gotten a great push. Instead, Windham was stuck with a lame cowboy character called the “Widowmaker” that made almost no impact. He was gone in just weeks, his signing a total letdown.
In 1996, Windham got another shot but was put with an even worse character of “The Stalker” in military makeup. Then he was put into a “New Blackjacks” tag team that went nowhere. For a man of such fantastic skill as Windham to be wasted so badly is just embarrassing and a squandering of talent amazing even for Vince McMahon.
This was more a case of seriously bad timing than anything else. Awesome Kong had lived up to her first name in TNA, a monster worker holding the Knockouts title and wowing with her power and skill. In 2011, she was signed to WWE who boosted her via wild videos. They promised a monster crushing the other Divas and set up for great feuds. But before it all got started, Kharma announced she was expecting a child and thus taking a break from the in-ring action. By the time she came back, the heat for her had died out and her later run totally forgettable.
So WWE got nothing for their signing but a few weeks that wasted all the big build and more than a bit annoyed Kharma picked what should have been the top part of her career to do this. You can’t blame her for wanting a kid but she could have given a better heads-up before embarrassing Vince.
5 Ultimo Dragon
An idea that should have worked so well but didn’t. In 2004, the Cruiserweight section of WWE was pretty strong and a highlight of SmackDown. Signing Ultimo Dragon was supposed to be a great thing as the man was well known for his fantastic work in Japan and a colorful character. With his masks and cape, the guy was a tailor-made super-hero character, perfect for WWE and you could see the obvious merchandising opportunities abounding. Sadly, creative didn’t have much idea how to properly push him, not booking well and Dragon lost in the shuffle.
His most famous moment was taking part in the Cruiserweight Open at WrestleMania XX and tripping on his cape on his way to the ring. Sadly, the Dragon failed to roar in WWE and mark a bad choice by Vince to sign.
4 Sin Cara (Mistico)
This looked a great move but really blew up in everyone’s faces. The former Mistico was a big deal for Mexican fans, a fantastic flyer and worker and seemed the perfect substitute for the departing Rey Mysterio. You could just imagine Vince counting the merchandise of Sin Cara masks and how it would be good box office. They made it a huge deal with a press conference in Mexico City and vignettes promoting his arrival. Sadly, Sin Cara soon became famous for his total in ability to alter his style for WWE. He was soon making botch after botch and his lack of interview skills hurt him more.
Then there were injuries that would also hold him back, forcing WWE to have someone else take up the role. That led to a very ugly battle in both legal terms and in the ring that did no favors to either guy. In the end, it was all a total mess that wasn’t worth the price.
3 Steve Williams
Now this was actually more the fault of Jim Ross but Vince shouldn’t have listened to him. In 1998, needing a new challenger for Steve Austin, Ross suggested his old buddy Steve “Dr. Death” Williams whose tough guy rep was well known in the UWF and WCW. To boost him more, they would have Williams win the big “Brawl For All” tournament they were setting up. But then Williams was knocked out by Bart Gunn, tossing all the plans for him as this bad-ass challenger out the window.
The fact was, at his age, Williams was never that good a worker or really over, especially at that time and pushing him to the main event would be crazy. While listening to Ross is usually a good idea, this was a time Vince should have ignored his advice.
2 Scott Steiner
Now, had this been a few years earlier, it could have been great. Scott Steiner was a fantastic athlete in his prime, a muscleman who could do technical moves and pulling off stuff fans in the early 1990s had never seen before. He and Rick were signed in 1993 for a run as tag team champions but returning to WCW a year later, feeling frustrated. There, Rick became a solo star and champion and pushed well. So when he was signed in late 2002, Vince must have figured he’d have a great new heel star.
But by that time, Steiner had degraded in skills and gotten way too over the top in his steroid use as well as his insane promos. It came to a Royal Rumble battle with HHH where Steiner was blown up in two minutes and did nothing but overhead suplexes with fans booing and Hunter himself upset. Steiner was gone in no time flat, a total waste of money and one move Vince has to regret.
1 Giant Gonzales
As bad as Khali might have been, Gonzales was worse. Even wilder was that he’d already been proven a failure. He was signed by the Turner organization for the Atlanta Hawks on the idea someone seven feet tall would be a great basketball player but proved far too uncoordinated to work. So they turned him into El Gigante who quickly became known as one of the worst workers around. Despite that, Vince still decided to hire the guy and put him in an ugly as hell body suit as Giant Gonzales.
There he had a horrible feud with The Undertaker that fans hated, showed no real push at all and was gone by the end of 1993. Many consider the man possibly the worst wrestler of all time and for Vince to let him show his “gifts” more has to rank among the worst signings he ever made.